Sunday, January 1, 2017

Nightcap 1/1/17 Thank you Carrie Fisher, Unseen Films New Year's Plans, First Look Fest Starts Friday and Randi's links

I wrote this little piece on Carrie Fisher early the day after she died. As everyone else, I was not expecting Debbie Reynolds to die a few hours later.  Pondering whether to change things after Debbie died I decided against it. Not because Debbie doesn't deserve it but I just don't have the words

Whether you like it or not Carrie Fisher was a cultural icon. Based on Star Wars alone she has infiltrated the consciousness of the world if not for eternity for decades to come. Add to that all of the other things she’s done she is a bigger part of our culture in ways that even our most respected poets and novelists could ever hope to be. She is part of the new geek religion.

Some people don’t understand that. I’ve been told by friends that some people at their jobs couldn’t understand why social media was melting down when she died. Clearly they aren’t believers or film fans or know Fisher's work. Carrie Fisher changed the way we all see the world even for the squares. They don’t know that much of the take no shit, take no prisoners with a witty retort attitude is her doing.

And now she’s gone and we are left in a world that is a tad less bright.

Some people I know are asking what are we going to do now. We go on. We pick up where she left off and go on. She showed us the way- we just keep moving that way.

She will be missed in more ways than we can ever imagine- especially the squares
As this piece was started a couple of weeks back Unseen Films was programmed well past February 20th. That date is going to mean nothing to most of you, but it means effectively that if I walked away from Unseen Films no one would know anything was wrong until after Unseen passed its seventh birthday. That means we’ll have given you an average of more than two posts a day every day for seven years. While that’s around 5500 posts it probably over 6000 films reviewed not counting reposts and other bits.

That’s a hell of a lot of anything…and the way things are going we may be on course to continue spreading the madness…

2016 was a memorable year on any number of levels some good, some bad, some cinematic. This was a year where we made some friends, got into some fights, ended up quoted on posters, in trailers and on DVD covers.

Most importantly we saw a bunch of really good films and discovered that though we are small we have a very good reputation in some circles.

People are starting to know us- and of our love of film festivals. This past year we provided some sort of coverage to over 60 festivals. In some cases that simply was reposting a press release, or something that directed people toward the fest. In some cases we reviewed a bunch of films and gave guidance as to what to see. And in others were waded in and almost drown in screenings and events.

2016 was a year we visited many old favorite fests and we discovered a couple of new ones.

With the new ones there are two I need to mention because they unexpectedly delighted us:

The Oxford Film Festival in Oxford Mississippi was the first surprise. A beautifully programmed festival it has some of the nicest people I've ever dealt with at a festival. They were so nice that before this past year's fest happened I was trying to book a flight-but couldn't do it. I'm pissed now because I may not be able to go this year because I didn't ask off the day job early enough. I'm still trying to go. If you can go do so- its several days of good friends, good food and good movies. I can’t recommend it enough (Details here)

The best kept cinematic secret in New York is the Harlem Film Festival. I had no idea what it was until this year when I discovered a ton of great films, many of which should have been playing at the fest's big cousin at Lincoln Center. I was blown away by the festival and spent much of my time at the New York Film Festival talking about Harlem. This year they switched the fest from fall to spring so it looks like I’ll be jumping from Tribeca to Harlem. (Details here)

As for festival coverage in 2017- we’re already locked and loaded with coverage of two early year fests with coverage of The Museum of the Moving Image’s First Look Fest (see below) and The New York Jewish Film Festival already set to go. We’re also working on coverage of Lincoln Center’s Neighboring Sounds as well. Additionally I’ve arranged with Mr. Joe Bendel to be our man in Park City- so look for coverage from Sundance and Slamdance in the next few weeks.

I have been known to talk of lofty plans for the new year and have none of them come to pass So I’m going to bite my tongue. and refrain from making promises.

I will say that I am working on a series of interviews that will reveal filmmaking, film production and film going from different angles as opposed to just actors and directors. I will keep you posted as it comes together.

I think perhaps the one thing I’m going to try to do in 2017 is to come to terms with what Unseen Films is- namely a scruffy little mutt of a film website.

For many years I’ve tried to make Unseen into one of the ‘adults’. There was a time when I really wanted to be looked up to and to have a seat at the big people’s table. However over the last few years it’s increasingly dawned on me that I and Unseen really don’t belong there. We don’t follow trends, we don’t like the “Best Movies” and we are unashamedly happy sitting in a theater watching exploitation films over the latest depressing film from Romania or flogging a the “comedy” from Germany that isn’t funny. There is no pretensions to what we see. While we will see say Toni Erdmann and we will give it as honest an appraisal we would be just as happy seeing something as seemingly loopy as The Fridge (a bout a killer refridgerator)  or the eco art film Mago or the Lon Chaney thriller Dead Man’s Eyes.

I think that’s why I have chosen the writers I have for Unseen. Everyone speaks their minds where film is concerned. If they like something they will say so. If we hate something we will say so as well -even if it upsets the more established writers around us (Nate and I were shushed at a NYFF screening). We are an eclectic bunch who are passionate not about one type of film but all films. I love that everyone at Unseen can discuss more than just Godard, Welles, Kurosawa or Disney. I admire that everyone will admit they don’t know a director or film and rather than see it as something to be ashamed of they see it as another door to go through to find wonders. Where are always asking where do I start?

I do not get paid for doing Unseen, but I get to read new pieces by some of my favorite film writers before anyone else-and then I get to share them. I also get to occasionally have dinner with them and I get to watch as discussion ping pong through cinema history with trains of thought that would make most people’s heads spin.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that the reason that I have the writers (aka friends)  I do is that while they all have other more staid gigs, with Unseen they are allowed to do whatever they want. As I say to everyone when I try to sell them on coming aboard – "at Unseen you can do anything . You can write anything you want. There are no restrictions." This why we have had things like Peter Gutierrez’s three question interview of Christopher Doyle or Mondo’s piece on God Speed You Black Emperor’s projections or some of Hubert’s think pieces, or Alec's Zatoichi reviews. I don’t know if all of these pieces would have ended up anywhere but with Unseen they have a home.

Say what you will about Unseen Films there is no place quite like it anywhere and in the new year I think I'm going to work to make it even more so.
The Museum of the Moving Image’s First Look Festival starts Friday and runs for 10 days. The first of the major festivals of any year highlights films that should be on your radar. Usually a heady mix of small gems and intriguing art films the festival is a must see for anyone who loves the offbeat, the off the radar and the films that are ahead of the curve.

At the risk of getting banned from the Museum I’m going to say that I’ve seen eight of the festivals selections this year and they are decidedly all art films. A heady mix of choices for those who are looking for deep “meaning” in their films, this year’s selections are not for all tastes. Some of the films such as HAVARIE are right out of the avant garde. If you don’t like that sort of thing then the selections are going to be a long haul.

I’ll have capsules up toward the end of the week
And Now Randi's Links:
A commercial for FLASH GORDON
Laura Benanti and The Skivvies
Lena Hall & The Skivvies
Norm Lewis Make Them Hear You
Kinky Boots and Hamilton in a Freestyle Rap Battle
Give Up Yer Aul Sins
Making of Give Up Yer Aul Sins
Elvis Costello and Roseanne Cash at BAM
Todd Gault's Serial Experience - The Phantom
The Phantom - The Files of Jerry Blake
The Most expensive deleted scenes
Important deleted scenes
The Mosul Dam may wipe out a huge section of Iraq
The history of christmas carols
58 TV commercials from 1977
Vintage Toy Commercials

No comments:

Post a Comment